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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Science vs. Religion: Truth vs. Ideology

Regularly something called the "National Liberty Journal" shows up, unbidden, in my mailbox. A product of Jerry Falwell's nearby Lynchburg church and college empire, it bills itself as the "Conservative Christian's Newspaper." As there is no way that I'm in tune with the tenets of this little rag, I can only guess at how I came to be on the free subscription list. My chief and only suspect is a guy I know who is a faithful member of Falwell's Thomas Rodes Baptist Church, and, knowing how opposite my views are to his, he put in my name as a practical joke.-- an act of malice that is fully characteristic of those on his end of the political spectrum.
My wife wants me to take steps to stop getting this thing, but I've resisted. The organ is printed on cheap newsprint, and that makes it valuable for starting fires in my several stoves. There's a definite delight to setting a match to its pages. Also, I don't do stuff like surfing the websites of the Pre-Fascist Right, and this journal is an easy way for me to keep up with their nonsense.
Not that I really need to. Nothing the Hard Right says or does ever surprises me, and I could write all their stuff for them. One has only to detect the hateful and illogical side of any issue, and there the Right is sure to be.
So for instance this latest March issue contains several attacks on the reality of global warming.. The main one is titled "The Great Myth of Global Warming," from one of Falwell's recent sermons.
It should be a little surprising that they would come out so strongly against what is widely accepted nowadays as a cold fact, as palpable as electricity or concrete. They should know that scientists can measure all the carbon dioxide that is collecting in the atmosphere and that is so largely a part of human industrial activities, and that this CO2 creates a greenhouse effect, keeping heat from escaping into space.
The only answer must be that because Al Gore and others of his persuasion are working against the perpetrating of excessive global warming, the Rightists believe that arguing in the opposite direction is the way to go, even if their argument chiefly consists of saying that the warnings must be bogus because look at those who are making them, those miserable liberals.
The religionists like to say that they deal in truth, when in reality nothing could be farther from the truth. Science, however, does deal in facts, and therefore in truth. As proof of this, you have only to look the products of religon as compared to those of science. If a Roman or a Chinese or a Ugandan of the 3rd century B.C. could check out today's humans, as affected by all the intervening years of prayer and worship, they would just yawn, seeing no significant improvement over the mindsets of the tribesmen of their times. Even slavery, which on the surface has apparently gone out of style, still exists, only in less easily attacked forms.. But if they could check out the thousands and thousands of products of science obtained as a result of the work and the progression in thought in those same centuries, culminating in such wonders as computers, tv's, and surgical instruments and procedures, they would be struck dumb with awe.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Worst U.S. Presidents

Today Netscape is featuring an article on the 10 worst U.S. presidents. Most likely this was seen as timely because of widespread speculation as to how G.W. Bush will fit in there. I eagerly cliicked on the item, to see what it would have to say, should the writers have the perceptiveness and the bravery to include him, or whether they would choose to cop out. As you might expect, they quickly copped out, by saying that it was too soon to say.

I wonder how much time will have to pass before they will feel that it's safe to say. Were they speaking out of high optimism or what? Surely they can't really expect that in the little that remains of his second term, G.W. Bush will find enough to do to redeem all these years just of his unconscionable reactions to 9/11, culminating in his attack on a country whose citizens had nothing to do with that event, an attack and an occupation that have brought rack and ruin to the Iraqis such that they didn't suffer even in the eight years of their earlier brutal and bitter battle with Iran.

On these grounds alone quite a few citizens for a long time have already seen him as fashioning the worst presidency ever, and in fact some of us have even seen him as wearing those goat horns from the very first day that he perched himself behind the big desk. Subsequent events have more than borne out the feeling then that he couldn't possibly amount to anything, judging by how mediocre he had come across during the 2000 elections and even more by the criminal manner that he and his people were foisted upon a largely sleepwalking country and world after the votes were miscounted.

Education and Driving Crosscountry

In his weblog at his new location, Mustang Bobby of BarkBarkWoofWoof made the interesting observation that he had a teacher who said that a good indication that people are well-educated is if they can drive cross-country without turning on their car radios.

He got a lot of comments pro and con on this, and I made one, too, amplified as follows.

I've driven from east to west completly across the "lower 48" and also Canada several times, and once even from D.C., formerly my hometown, all the way up to Fairbanks in Alaska -- without the use of a radio of any kind. But I doubt that this showed that I'm well-educated, even though I do tend to think that I was fortunate enough to get a good and I might even say an excellent education, and for very little money, too.

I spent seven years at Howard University in D.C.. in two periods separated by a four year stint in the Air Force, which itself was merely another fortuitous part of my college education.

The U.S. military is actually a great place to get some education, though of course recently that's been unthinkable, because so far in the 21st century we've had in place a hopelessly belligerent national administration full of officials who -- especially since their own offspring won't be offered for the slaughter -- get an irresistible urge to drag less fortunate citizens into that always unnecessary exercise in bullshit called war.

One reason I've never used a radio while driving is that sometimes I didn't have one, and even when one was installed it didn't work. But also I've never felt the need to listen to one while driving, and I think that derived from having a very active mind, and maybe that was affected by having been permanently stirred up by my education. I always felt the strong necessity to keep my eye on the road, as well as the urge meanwhile to take in as much as I could of the passing sights, in cities or out in the countryside -- a delight from which any kind of radio sounds would just have subtracted.

Making a long drive across this beautiful continent, east and west or north and south, involves taking part in the creation of a kind of symphony, in which the radio would just strike a lot of false, dissonant notes.

Unaccountable Leaps in Time

As so often in the past, it amazes me that so much time has passed since my last post, way back on Feb 24.

Half of that trouble is that actually -- in my mind -- I write a new post nearly every morning after I awaken. The other half is is that, with so much else that I have to do not only in the early morning but also throughout the rest of the day, I don't get around to entering the posts in my computer, and a lot of that is affected by my perfect awareness that whatever I write will be read by essentially no one.

Like so much else it's all a matter of communication, isn't it? And if no communication is in progress, then letting things stay in my head is just as well, even though there they will soon boil off into oblivion, like gasoline on the ground in a hot summer's day.

Still I always feel that I've accomplished something when I do make a posting. So the desire is always there, and that's an important thing, too.

Meanwhile, weblog-wise, today is an auspicous day because I also finally got around to switching to the new version of Blogger. I had been putting off doing this for weeks, but this morning somehow I was pushed into it. I don't know if I still had a choice. Anyway I don't see much difference yet, though I'm sure I will as soon as I get around to investigating the new features.

But this move did accomplish one very good thing. The "New Blogger" said that I had 174 (!) comments that needed to be moderated. I knew the trouble. Entirely blogspam, from that nitwit largely sex-mad person named "Anonymous." But the new blogger also made it possible for me to reject all those pitches en masse in just a few seconds.